The incessant voiceover drove me frantically searching for the mute switch. Why chop up Ronald Reagan's magnificent words with someone else's minuscule explanations? A third of the way through, though, just as I was about to write the movie off as "Triumph of the Will" manque, suddenly I found myself weeping.
No fancy footwork. Just Winston Churchill at war saying: "Let us therefore ... so bear ourselves so that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, 'This was their finest hour.'" Later, from Ronald Reagan, we hear the film's central theme: "Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid."
This is faith, pure and simple. Too simple for pseudo-sophisticates who imagine that black and white does not exist. They get it half right, perhaps. Nothing is wholly good except God, and the line between good and evil runs straight through every human heart. Often, we need to be reminded of that truth.
But sometimes when great leaders call us to fight evil in our time, we are tempted instead to shoot the messenger. Sometimes, we prefer to believe our adversaries are ordinary people who want to avoid war if possible. Sometimes it is even true. Sometimes.
Could I imagine a better movie about the drama of good vs. evil in our time? Yes. But I emerged nonetheless grateful to spend a few hours in the company of great men, such as Reagan. Sometimes you can tell how great a vacuum exists only when it is partly filled. Millions of people in this country almost never see our sensibilities, our lives, our heroes, reflected to us in art, literature, plays and the ultimate contemporary storyteller: the movies.
Is there an unserved market for films that tap into these kinds of aspirations, narratives and worldviews? Yes.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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